Krish Kotru, A'08

Krish Kotru

"…these experiences subconsciously alerted me to how widely applicable a physics education can be." (Krish Kotru)

Current occupation:
I am a graduate student working toward a PhD in the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics department and Draper Laboratory.

How do you use your physics background in your line of work?
Physics plays an essential role in my work. As a graduate student, I contributed to the development of optical and atomic sensors intended for precise timekeeping and navigation. These systems often bring together a wonderful blend of applied quantum physics, lasers and electro-optics, electronics, and vacuum technology. Having a physics background helped me understand my experimental apparatus at the level of its individual components and as a system of interacting parts. And on occasions when the experimental problem was "real physics" (rather than just a broken component), I used conceptual tools like the Schrodinger equation, ray optics, and statistical analysis to model the experiment and get a better grasp of what was really going on.

Did the Tufts physics department prepare you for your current career?
Absolutely! One fantastic and unique thing about Tufts Physics is that it nurtures long-term relationships between undergraduate students and faculty. For example, my undergraduate thesis on the growth of thin metallic films built on many semesters of hands-on work in Roger Tobin's lab. My work was closely supervised Prof. Tobin himself. This exposure to independent laboratory research let me hit the ground running as a young graduate student.

What is your favorite memory of your time in the Tufts physics department?
I couldn't choose just oneā€¦

  1. My modern physics lecturer, Prof. Gallagher, once plotted an undergrad's self-evaluation of his/her comfort with quantum physics as a function of time. Apparently, you never get quite as high up along the y-axis as you were at the beginning of the modern physics course.
  2. I heard a couple of inspiring talks early on during my undergraduate career. One was by astronaut Jeff Hoffman, who spoke on the value of manned space exploration while regaling us with stories about his space walks—one of which was part of the mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. The other was by Prof. Tobin, who combined his love for physics and baseball to statistically analyze the effects of steroid usage on home run production in Major League Baseball. I think these experiences subconsciously alerted me to how widely applicable a physics education can be.
  3. During my senior year, Prof. Tobin and I attended the annual meeting of the American Physical Society in New Orleans. We needed to find a restaurant for dinner, so in the midst of spring break season we ended up strolling down Bourbon Street of all places in search of food. It's not often that you find yourself caught between inebriated spring breakers and your research mentor (I hope).